Friday, September 10, 2010

Day One: Inside Film Job Socialism

I'm writing this on day two of TIFF, due to the erratic, half-assed nature of Toronto wi-fi.  Thank god there's a Second Cup every block in this city, otherwise, I'd never get anything written.

On to the movies:

FILM SOCIALISM (Jean-Luc Godard)

I toyed with ratings this year--scale of 1-10?  Letter grades?  1-100?  Thumbs-up, thumbs-down?  Well, I haven't the slightest idea what I can possibly grade Godard's latest film.   As a product of a broken American public-school system, I speak one language:  English.  And, like most Americans, I don't even speak that one terribly well most of the time.  So when Godard's film unspooled (digitally), and it became increasingly obvious that it would have no subtitles (not even the fractured Navajo English that graced the Cannes screenings), I knew this was going to be a tough slog.

Strangely enough, I found myself enjoying the opening scenes, all of which are set aboard a particularly garish  cruise ship.   Perhaps it's because I find cruise ships to basically be floating circles of Hell, but I felt the experience of being unmoored from the dialogue while bombarded with the sounds and images of cruise ships to be a pretty accurate rendering of my own cruise experiences.  It's clearly a metaphor for modern existence:  history experienced in snippets;  the intellectual and the anti-intellectual forced to roam the same hellish environments that make real human connection impossible.  And also, cat videos.

So yeah, it's modern life and I really liked it.  Then the action switches to a family working a rural gas station, who are apparently having financial woes and being harassed by a news reporter who mugs ferociously.  At least I think that's what was happening.   Without a better grasp on French, I was left to flounder in the images and they just weren't as memorable in this part of the film (apart from the llama, who I liked).   Godard then wraps it all up with a re-take on the cities visited only tangentially in the first part of the film, but with added commentary on their political meaning.

It's all very heady and maybe if I spoke French, I'd have a stronger opinion on it (or an opinion, period), but I just can't say.  Maybe Godard wants me to feel alienated, maybe he doesn't care if I understand his film, or maybe it's some sort of perverse experiment.  Whatever his intentions, the end result is still the same for me:  I have no idea what to make of it.

1st 3rd:  B+ /  Rest of the film:   No Comment

INSIDE JOB (Charles Ferguson)

 I'm not a fan of talking head, information-heavy documentaries.  I usually prefer the fly-on-the-wall approach preferred by Allan King or Frederick Wiseman, or the personality-driven ones like those of Herzog or Errol Morris (funny, I'm seeing a doc by each one of them this year).  But as far as talking head documentaries go, this one's pretty good.  It's a little over-emphatic at times (the score, especially early on, is overbearing) and it moves perhaps a little too fast for its own good, but it's still a perfectly fine muckraking look at the horrible financial disaster we're all living in these days.  There's nothing here that isn't in the various books and NPR podcasts that have come out recently, but it's still something that more people in the world should be outraged about, especially Americans. 


That's about it for today.  Tomorrow (which is actually today) I'll return with LEGEND OF THE FIST, A MARRIED COUPLE, THE LIGHT THIEF, GUEST, and SUPER.   Bye for now.

Fake celeb of the day:  Paul Giamati, if he was a 1970's roadie.

No comments: